Sunday, April 26, 2020

"College campuses must reopen in the Fall"

That's the message of Christina Paxson, the president and a professor of economics and public policy at Brown University. Remote learning is bad for the students - especially lower-income students; they "face financial, practical and psychological barriers as they try to learn remotely."

Remote learning is also bad for the economy. Colleges and universities "employ about three million people and as recently as the 2017-18 school year pumped more than $600 billion of spending into the national gross domestic product." And they also "drive innovation, advance technology and support economic development.The spread of education, including college and graduate education, enables upward mobility and is an essential contributor to the upward march of living standards in the United States and around the world."

Paxson argues that the colleges must develop public health plans now that build on three basic elements of controlling the spread of infection: test, trace and separate.

They have the problem of controlling the disease in a college world which is not very open to social distancing. Plus, unlike our situation today, they "must be able to conduct rapid testing for the coronavirus for all students, when they first arrive on campus and at regular intervals throughout the year. Testing only those with symptoms will not be sufficient." While contact tracing is a valuable asset, it needs to be expanded as "students may not know who they sat next to in a lecture or attended a party with."  And then, you have the question of quarantining those who become exposed to the virus.

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